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Stargazing
Wednesday 24th February 2021 8:02 pm

I had done some stargazing years ago, inspired by Stargazing Live. Last year I finally managed to catch the ISS going over, but generally standing outside in the freezing cold in January learning constellations wasn't as appealing. But then I was inspired by the recent Jupiter an Saturn lining up. I went out to look and could only see one bright dot (Jupiter), but through the binoculars I could see another, less bright dot (Saturn), right beside it.

I got an Amazon gift voucher from work for Christmas and decided to spend it on some decent binoculars for stargazing. The ones I have are cheap and light and good for looking details/people in the player/royal box at tennis matches, but that's about it. That's what I bought them for, so it's not unreasonable.

After loads of research I bought a pair... and then it was cloudy. Every night. Well, I got to the point where I stopped checking and was surprised a couple of times on my way out shopping - and of course it was cloudy when I got back. But late last week we finally got a clear night, and the temperature was above freezing. So I went out and looked at the moon through the binoculars and it was pretty exciting. Handily, the moon was up in the day a couple of times, so I got to see it looking less bright (relative to the rest of the sky).

I assumed at the time that the planets and ISS were the only other things you could see through binculars. The only planet that was up was Mars and it was behind the moon. The other night it had moved away and I discovered that through binoculars that little red dot became... a brighter red dot.

I then wondered if I could see any nebulae, discovered some were in Orion and pointed my binoculars at it... and discovered there were suddenly so many stars in the sky. I have no idea if I saw a nebula or not, I was too distracted! I can't go somewhere away from lights on my own (especially holding a pair of binoculars, that's just asking for them to be stolen) so I've always been happy with whatever stars I can see.

Afterwards I looked up what you can see through binoculars and it's not any details of Mars, it's just too small. But I bookmarked a website that I can check through next time it's a clear night (it's looking good for later this week!). I am really keen to see the ISS through binoculars, but it's hard finding a night when it goes over at a reasonable time, high enough above the horizon and it's a clear night. But it also moves pretty fast, so going to be hard to follow with binoculars.

For anyone interested in Stargazing I recommend the SkyView Lite app. You can hold it up and it'll identify what's in front of it. And you can ask it to find specific objects and it'll direct you to them.


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